GPXTrackMap: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are "GPX tracks"?

If you go hiking or cycling with a GPS device (such as my Oregon by Garmin™), the device can record a track of where you have been (and when). Later on you can download the track from your GPS device to file it, look at it in applications such as Google Earth™, or publish them for others on a website - this is where the plugin comes into play.

2. Why GPXTrackMap?

I was looking for a quick and easy way to publish GPX tracks on websites - no, not just the files, of course - i wanted to see the tracks on (interactive) maps. There are a few Joomla! extensions that can do this, but none of them really suited my needs - being quick, easy and FREE. So i built my own plugin to do the job.

3. How does the plugin work?

The plugin will look for it's invocation code "{gpxtrackmap}...{/gpxtrackmap}" when Joomla renders an article for display. If it finds it, it builds a piece of Javascript code that will display the map using the OpenLayers API. This code then replaces the invocation code in your article, so the map with the track on it will show instead of the code. The code does not use iframes. However, Javascript obviously needs to be enabled in your (and your site's visitor's (!)) browser for the plugin to work.

4. How can i make a GPX file?

This heavily depends on the type of GPS device you use. On my Garmin™ Oregon, it's as easy as plugging it into my PC where it will show up as a drive in the Explorer (i'm on Windows™). There is a subfolder which contains the GPX files the device has recorded, that i copy over to my harddisk. After some (optional) editing of the tracks, i can upload the track files to my webserver, and have my plugin show them there. But: "your mileage may vary" - see the documentation of your GPS device to find out if and how it can record GPX files, and how to transfer them to your computer.

5. Where should i put my gpx track files?

By default, the plugin will look for the files in the folder /images/gpxtracks (that you have to create on your server). This is the GPX root folder. But you can choose any other folder in the configuration settings of the plugin. Choosing this folder should be the first thing you do, after installing the plugin. All paths to the GPX files are relative to this folder. So, once you have started using the plugin, you should not change this root folder any more, or the plugin will likely be unable to find your track files, and display empty maps.

6. Can i change the way the track looks?

Yes, there are several options to influence how the track gets drawn onto the map. See the documentation for details.

7. Can i use other map layers?

Yes, there is a (limited, and fixed) set of map layers you can choose from - this list may be extended in the future. Currently there are three different OpenStreetMap layers, and four from Google Maps™ available. However, before using the Google Maps™ layers, you should absolutely make sure you have read and understood their Terms of Service ! If you ignore this warning, and some day receive a big bill from Google™ - don't blame me!

The OpenStreetMap data is - and will remain - completely free to use, with no If's and When's. So if you're unsure, just leave the Google Maps™ layers disabled (which is the default setting anyway).

8. Will people be able to download my tracks?

If you want to: Yes, that's possible. There are some settings to add a download link or button for the track file above or below the map. If you want to protect your GPX tracks from being downloaded: There may be ways to accomplish this, but i have not investigated this - the whole point of this plugin is to publish GPX tracks. See the documentation for more on adding download links.

9. Can i have multiple track maps in the same article?

Yes. The plugin correctly handles multiple maps in a single article, as well as spread over various articles that are visible at the same time. You can also have track maps in modules, and even combinations of article- and module-located maps. Note that having a lot of maps will slow down the display of your web pages considerably, so don't overdo!

10. Will all the tracks on my page look the same?

This depends - if you use the simple invocation code with just the GPX file name, then the settings you have made in the plugin options will apply to all your tracks. However, you can override (almost) every setting in the invocation code on a per-track/map-basis. You can also use presets for combinations of settings. You define those presets in the plugin configuration, and then pull them in like this: {gpxtrackmap}mytrack.gpx,preset=mypreset{/gpxtrackmap}. I highly recommend using presets, especially if you have a lot of tracks you want to display. Again, see the documentation for details.

11. I can not zoom the map with the mouse wheel, what's wrong?

There is a setting in the plugin options to turn mouse wheel zoom on or off. I have this turned OFF by default. Here's why: If you scroll over a web page with the mouse wheel, and you scroll over a map, you will (accidentally) stop scrolling the web page, and instead start zooming the map you "hit". I find this rather annoying - but of course you can turn this setting ON if you want to.

12.  Will the plugin work in Joomla versions other than 2.5.x?

The plugin is tested on all 2.5.x and 3.x versions of Joomla! - currently up to 3.3.6.

NOTE that in Joomla 3.3 the library of Joomla was changed from mootools to jQuery. So if you use version > 3.3, you may have to tell the plugin to use jQuery instead of mootools, too.

See here on how to change this setting.

13. What does the plugin cost?

Nothing. This is free software, released under the GNU General Public License (Version 3), see